Completely blindsided. That is the best description for last Friday's Mayoral debate run by Grey Power North Shore. Let me give you a brief run-down.
It started with me arriving nice and early, and setting up a livestream camera, then chatting with the organisers.
As the 1pm start time rolled up, so too did John Tamihere and Phil Goff - complete with their entourage handing out flyers. I will at this point give myself a brick bat, I left all my cards in the other car and had nothing to give out to the crowd.
Genuine rookie mistake, won't happen again!
We all wandered on stage, and I was ignored aside from a quick hello handshake. I have to assume they knew nothing about me, and had probably done little to no research. It also meant they weren't prepared.
Immediately after the event I suspect the research was fierce.
It started with an introduction by Bill Rayner the Chair, followed with the opening speeches. Goff, JT, then myself. Goff apologised that he wouldn't be able to stay long. After his opening lines JT had his turn. I'm not being unkind when I say they rambled and waffled and went off point. But that's ok, it was my turn next.
I'm not going to tell you what I said, you can watch the YouTube link below, but I will say this - I got the applause, and I got the salvo away. During my speech Phil was taking lots of notes, he even laughed when I got to the point about policies - but he went deathly quiet after I explained my reasons.
After the speech Goff was going to leave, but he delayed his departure two or three times - my best guess - he suddenly realised that it wasn't about him and JT and he is experienced enough to know that he needed to maintain an appearance.
Following on from the speech were the questions, both from the Chair and the floor, I am extremely confident to say that I believe I won the day.
Both JT and PG left immediately after the end of the meeting, I stayed back and was swamped by the guests, I couldn't keep up with all the questions and support being shown. I was also the last to leave - and that's how it should have been.
JT and PG will both be changing their campaign rhetoric now - expect a lot more of the words "Leader" and "Leadership" to come out of their camps due to my blindsiding them with the "Dictatorship" labels.
So below are two links. One is for the entire debate, and the other is a shorter version of just my Speech. The full version has low audio for the first 8 minutes but then it comes right. I hope you enjoy them.